North Vietnam Tour Itinerary 13 Days, provided by Hiking Vietnam includes such outdoor activities as day trekking, hiking tour, boat junk cruise, sea canoeing tour. You travel through both remote and popular travel places in the north of Vietnam including Mai Chau village, Suoi Lon, Bac Yen, Thu Cuc, Nghia Lo, Tu Le, Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai, Than Uyen, Binh Lu, Lai Chau, Sapa, Hanoi and Halong Bay. The accommodation is simple as you spend most of the nights at local homes (homestay) and budget hostels. The multi-day trek is completed with a three-day tour to Halong bay where sea canoeing, scuba diving are available.
Map of north Vietnam tour itinerary
North Vietnam tour itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau.
Transfer to Mai Chau. Mai Chau is in a valley just over the biggest hump, about 10km from the Song Da river and only 150 metres above sea level. The village, nestled between two towering cliffs and surrounded by emerald green paddies, is an enchanting sight as you wind down the cliff side. On the way, trek some kilometers through ethnic villages (Muong and Thai). Lunch will be providd in Mai Chau. Dinner and overnight in Lac village.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Suoi Lon.
After breakfast, transfer 17 kilometers then we start trekking in an area of inhabitants of ethnic minority Thai, Muong the villages of Cun Pheo and Hang Kia. On arriving at Bai Sang wharf, we will take a boat to cruise on the Black river. Arrive at Suoi Lon for overnight in Muong’ Village.
Day 3: Suoi Lon – Thu Cuc.
Transfer to Ta Sua plateau, you can contemplate the highland scenery of it. Visit some villages of ethnic Black H’mong and discover the daily life and custom of local inhabitants here, especially you can enjoy the local specialties: Ta Sua Tea and agriculture products then come back the mountain town for lunch. After having lunch, visit the local market, the handicraft and farming products made by many ethnics are available here. Then continue to trek over 5 Kilometers through villages of Thai and Muong village. During the trekking you can take a rest and enjoy the local wine distillated by ethnics. Transfer to Thu cuc. Overnight in Muong Village.
Day 4: Thu Cuc – Nghia Lo.
Trek through Thai, Dao, Mong visit the water wheel. It is used to scoop the water for the rice fields near the streams. Lunch will be provided en route. Continue going to Nghia Lo through the direction of Lung Lo pass. Arrive at Nghia Lo, check in hotel then take a visit the local market at the moment of decline of day.
Day 5: Nghia Lo – Tu Le.
Leave Nghia Lo for the itinerary, trek and visit some villages of ethnic’s minorities along the road: black Dzao, H’mong, white Thai, etc. They are very kind, honest and plain. Arrive at Tu Le village, dinner and overnight in house on stilt of inhabitants here. You can discover the daily life activities of this village in particular and the Thai ethnic in general in Vietnam. Overnight in Thai Village.
Day 6: Tu Le – Than Uyen.
Take leave of inhabitants of Tu Le, it takes 2 Km to village center, you can visit lots of activity on the early market day and it is typical colorful ethnics of this high mountain regions. Transfer to the the footing of Kau Pha pass for us to start trekking about 9 Km through the forest and ethnic villages. This trail runs parallel with the famous and beautiful Kau Pha pass. We finish the trail at the peak of the pass (1800m above sea level). Transfer to Mu Cang Chai for lunch. Visit the local market and go on to Than Uyen. Arrive at Than Uyen, check in local guest house.
Day 7: Than Uyen – Sapa.
Transfer to Sapa, on the way, we can take trek to visit lots of beautiful villages of ethnic. Especially, you can meet the most typical ethics as: Lao, Lu (Xa Pho). They wear the long traditional and colorful costumes with jeweler hand made. Moreover, you can discover the kind face in black dyed teeth of ethnics here. Arrive at Sa Pa. Check in and rest of the day at leisure or visit Sa Pa famous tourist town in Northern Vietnam . You can visit and go shopping, market for buying souvenirs such as handicraft made by ethics, ethics’ traditional costumes, etc before ending the days in North West Vietnam.
Day 8: Sapa Trekking.
After breakfast, you will go South by car toward Muong Hoa valley. Your trek will begin from Tavan village of Giay minority. The first day trek will be mostly uphill. Whenever you stop for a rest, you will be able to enjoy valley view. Before noon, you stop again at a nice spot for lunch. The trek will be softer in the afternoon. But the scenery becomes even more beautiful. You pass by Seomity village of Black Hmong minority before you arrive in a campsite, which locates nearby a river outside the village. While porters put up tents and cook dinner, you can take a walk to stretch the legs.
Day 9: Sapa Trekking.
The trek today takes you through beautiful rice paddies and over old suspension bridges. You will trek on small trail sneaking through rainforest. You arrive in Den Thang village of Black Hmong by noon. Here you stop for lunch either nearby a river or in a local school according to the weather. After lunch, the trek wills becomes tough on tinny footpath going up and down, which requires some concentration. You will reach to Ta Trung Ho village of Red Dao minority where you spend the night in local house. Both the valley and the village have just received foreign visitors. The night will be even more interesting when you are in the wonderful hospitable atmosphere of the Red Dao.
Day 10: Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi.
You are now at the fringe of the rain forest by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina with its 3143 m, is located in this mountain range. You will start the trek today by ascending to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority. Here your lunch will be prepared in a local school. In the afternoon, before descending to Ban Ho, you can make a stop by a waterfall to refresh. On the last hours you can enjoy the valley one final time whilst trekking up to Su Pan, where your car takes you on the journey back to Sapa befor transfer to Lao Cai for the night train back to Hanoi.
Day 11: Hanoi – Halong Bay.
Upon your arrival at Hanoi Railways Station, you will be greeted by our local guide and driver then transferred to a small hotel in town for breakfast and quick shower. Depart to Halong Bay. Enjoy the journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta and the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk. Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Visit the recently discovered Surprise Grotto with its great views, and on the next island see the yawning mouth of Bo Nau Cave. Take a kayaking trip to explore the Bay or enjoy a swim in the emerald waters of Halong Bay at any spot that you wish to visit. Watch the sunset over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner.
Day 12: Halong Bay Cruise.
Breakfast on board. Then we continue kayaking zigzagging through many small islets of different shapes. We will kayak to the Black Grottoe and The lake of Three Grottoes. The journey is really wonderful and adventurous! Back to the support boat for our lunch which will be provided on board. In the afternoon, we cruise towards the Islands of Rocks and visit the Fishermen floating village. We will kayak in Ba Men temple area which is also a important highlight of our journey. Swimming at the sandy Three Peach beach if weather permits and enjoy the great view of Halong bay sunset. Dinner and Overnight on board.
Day 13: Halong Bay – Hanoi.
Breakfast on board. Then we continue our cruise in Halong bay before going back to shore. Arrive at Ha long wharf about 11h00 and take our car for journey back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi at around 15h00. Enjoy a short cyclo excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sales at these places.
Hiking Vietnam specializes in tailor-making trekking and hiking vacations in Vietnam. With a dedicated team of senior travel consultants, hiking tour specialists, experienced English-speaking tour leaders, local H’mong, Thai, Tay guides, cooks, porters we can design any trekking, hiking, walking option for any age and budget. This North Vietnam Tour Itinerary 13 Days is only a sample that can be further customized to better fit your personal requirements. Just follow this itinerary or contact us for designing your own adventure.
Occasionally our tour itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travelers’ comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the service proposal. It’s very important that you print and review a final copy of your itinerary a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
Please note that while we operate successful trips in Vietnam throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
Our trekking tours can be classified into three levels
There are about 8 – 10K to walk on flat roads. No previous experience is necessary. Anyone in good health and fit enough to perform an occasional hike can take an easy level trek. Vietnam easy walks are provided in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Mai Chau, Ngoc Son Ngo Luong…
There are about 10 – 15K to hike on flat and hilly roads. At this point too, no special background is required. Hikers accustomed to trekking in hilly areas of Mai Chau, Pu Luong or Lai Chau, Yen Bai successfully accomplish our treks “moderate”, provided they are in good health and to have a correct fit. These treks are moderate or easy hikes with an average duration or shorter but more difficult steps.
There are about 16 – 23K to trek on uphill/downhill dirty, rocky trails. Physical fitness is very important for these treks and you may have to lead you home before the trek. Most treks in this level are comparable with long rides in the Fansipan mountain or the the mountainous region of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, sometimes higher altitudes. The climate and isolation can also participate in difficulty. Prior trek experience is preferable but not vital if you have confidence in your fitness.
Our trip cost usually includes the following services. Please bear in mind Lotussia Travel is specialized in tailor-made trips. Trip cost vary depending on group size and other details.
- Car transfers
- Local tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Local porter(s)
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Bottled water.
Unless required most of the following services are usually not included in our tour price.
- Visa (required)
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
Our tour guides speak English or French. They hold a university degree in tourism and national license as a guide. If you wish to send a tour leader along with any group, he or she can fully rely on the knowledge and experience of our local guides.
Remote treks are always accompanied by a local representative to deal with permits and authorities and manage the porter team. They speak the local dialects, know the cultural traditions and give tips on suggested behavior in fragile ecological areas and tribal communities. For some itineraries, the role of tour leader and representative is combined.
When to hike
The north Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons; winter and summer. Winter is cool, dry and lasts from November to April. Temperatures range between 15 to 25°C during the day and 0 to 10°C during the night. With little rain, the winter season offers the most pleasant weather conditions for trekking in Vietnam. Read more about Vietnam weather.
During all trekking tours we may use local porters to carry your luggage as well as our trekking equipment, where required. To generate local income we employ local villagers for this task. Participants will have their own porter, carrying trekking equipment and luggage to a maximum of 15 kg per client. Travelers only have to carry their day packs. Read more how to pack
Depending on the nature of the tour, journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections.
Campsites and lodges are not common in Vietnam, instead we make use of homestays; staying the night in tribal villages along the way. Facilities are clean, but very basic. Travelers share a bamboo-slat floor, separated by curtains. Animals usually sleep under the house and restrooms and showers are often absent. Water sources are available outside. Mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets are taken care of.
Over the years Lotussia Travel has established a number of projects to upgrade home stay accommodation into a bit more comfort. Basic facilities aside, spending the night in a tribal village and enjoying a meal with the locals brings travellers unforgettable cross-cultural experiences. In the past 15 years of organizing trekking by this way, we never received a complaint.
During all treks meals will be arranged on the spot, in local restaurants and at home in local villages along the way. The meals are prepared by our cooks, the local guide or by the local host. Our cooks are well trained to prepare and serve food hygienically and they cook a variety of local delicacies. Sometimes this may include the slaughter of a chicken, duck or pig. We sometimes have the chance to bring western food, and snacks from Hanoi for breakfast and picnics along the way, and coffee and tea are available in abundance. Our cooks make a special effort to provide as much variety as possible. The porters give necessary assistance on the spot.
There are many shops and villages that have bottled water for sale. On remote trekking tours, we buy a sufficient supply of water for the next couple of days. We recommend bringing some water purifying tablets.
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings such as pagoda, temple, communal house and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.
What you take will naturally depend upon where you are travelling and the style of journey you are undertaking, and it can often be difficult to decide what to pack. Nevertheless, the following should act as a useful checklist of essential items worth thinking about taking.
- 1 medium-sized backpack.
- Comfortable walking shoes with good grip
- 1 long (easy to dry) pants and 1 long sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (easy to dry).
- 1 pair of flip flop (sandals).
- 1 pair of shorts and T-shirt to wear at camp site (2 if you do 4-day trek).
- 1 medium-sized towel.
- 1 medium-sized dry bag.
- Hiking poles/walking sticks
We strongly believe that Responsible Tourism can support to local communities: proving incomes,positive cultural exchanges and an incentive to protect natural environment. We recognize that there is always space for improvement. We continually strive to narrow the gap between principle and practice.
We have been turning environmentally responsible tourism into practices to minimize tourist impact upon the local habitat. From biodegradable soaps to re – usable water containers, we provide clients with the best information and mean to help them identify and implement effective ways to positive protect local nature and communities. It is a vital criteria that can be passed on and abided by all, long after the trip ended.
Prior to our tours, we contact and work with local community leaders to make sure we are welcome and in a manner that minimizes negative social and cultural impacts. We visit local development and community projects specific to the region, encouraging customers to donate and assist such a projects in appropriate and sustainable manner.
Where make sure that where and whenever possible our tours positively benefit the local community. We stayed at locally owned accommodation and visit cottage industries for local handicraft souvenir, generating income for local business. We often employ, hire support team such as local guide, motor-taxi drivers, cook assistants on all trips to ensure that the local community benefit not only short term but with increased employment opportunities for the future.